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Ingrid HughesLocated: Harrisburg, Pa.

Employment type: CART/Captioning

Member since: 1990

Graduated from: Central Pennsylvania Business School

Theory: Roberts Walsh Gonzalez

What are your favorite briefs or tips?

My favorite tips are, 1. Never stop learning. 2. Embrace the importance of entering word parts into your dictionary so that no matter what subject matter is thrown your way, your realtime product will be beautiful because you’ll have the ability to effortlessly create words that aren’t currently in your dictionary.

Why did you decide to enter this profession and how did you learn about the career?

I’ve always loved doing things that seemed foreign to other people. I was the Gregg shorthand speed champion in my junior year of high school, so my shorthand teacher recommended that I not miss the court reporting presentation on career day. I still remember being intrigued and completely captivated by the presentation on that day way back in 1987. I sat in the front row directly in front of the student reporter and the college representative, Gail Pierce, as they gave the demo and presentation. I was hooked as soon as the student reporter stenotyped my name and handed me that slip of steno paper. My English teacher, Mrs. Murray, created a workplace shadow program and arranged for me to shadow Tiva Wood, further solidifying the decision that court reporting was definitely for me. Tiva became my mentor that day, and she hasn’t been able to get rid of me ever since.

What has been your best work experience so far in your career?

My best work experience was in the 1990s when I did my first on-site CART captioning job for the Self-Help for the Hard of Hearing, now called Hearing Loss Association of America. During a break, one of the audience members walked up to me, touched me on my arm, and began to thank me for my service and complimented me on what a phenomenal job I was doing. She even taught me a few ASL signs. She will never know the impact her encouragement had on me that night and on my career from that moment forward. She made me realize the importance of what I do for a living. Tucked away inside of a control room or even from my home office, it’s easy to forget that there are many people who are literally hanging on to my every captioned word. On days when I’m overworked or mentally and physically exhausted, I recall that sweet lady and remind myself that it’s not about me and that I have to do my absolute best because some important people are relying on me.

What was your biggest hurdle to overcome and how did you do so?

The biggest hurdle was when I was an official. Whenever I was asked to read back testimony, I thought I was going to pass out. I was extremely shy, so I never wanted to be heard nor seen. I overcame the hurdle by practicing readbacks with my colleagues in the office. The more I did it, the more comfortable I became doing it.

What surprised you about your career?

What surprised me about my career was how many avenues this career path can lead one to take. We can be an official reporter, freelance reporter, CART captioner, and broadcast captioner. We can take part in Intersteno, take on-site Guantánamo Bay hearings, and the list goes on and on. Even with being a CART captioner, I can choose from several different venues and types of captioning. We have on-site sports CART captioning, stadium captioning, relay captioning, Internet captioning, and so much more. We can decide to specialize in only one part of this profession or we can choose to specialize in multiple types of reporting/captioning. This was surprising to me because when I first started, I had a myopic view of the profession and focused solely on being an official. I had no idea how wide open this profession could be until several years later.

Have you had challenges to overcome in your profession?

I’ve had to overcome the challenge of unhealthiness. This profession requires quite a bit of sitting for prolonged periods of time. The atypical hours plus working from home led to a significant weight gain and an unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle, which caused my doctor to issue a health warning. A promise I made to my dying dad forced me to reclaim my health through proper nutrition and making time for exercise, and it prompted me to even pay it forward by helping others do the same.

Do you have a favorite gadget or tool?

My favorite gadget is called a Page Up. It holds up my schedule or rosters so that I can read them while on air. My favorite tool is a foam roller. It works out the kinks in my arms, neck, shoulders, and legs that tend to form when writing for extended periods of time.